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AWADmail Issue 197

February 18, 2006

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages

From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

Webster: One Man's Attempt to Define 'America':

Words Help Determine What We See:

Danish Pastry or Roses of the Prophet Mohammed:

From: John W. Price (johnwprice38AThotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--eustasy

I'm sure I won't be the only one to point out the irony that there is an island in the Leeward Islands of the far eastern Caribbean named St. Eustatius, known as Statia for short. I've sailed in there, and another part of the irony is that their port suffered terrible damage from a hurricane a few years ago and they are about to finish rebuilding it, just in time for the newest cycle of hurricanes. The unprecedented ferocity of these hurricanes is conjectured to be caused by global warming which will cause... eustasy.

From: M.R. James (mr.jamesATrobins.af.mil)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--eustasy

This word reminded me of an excellent story I read in a Hitchcock collection. In _Out of the Deeps_ by John Wyndham, also published as _The Kraken Wakes_, eustasy is at the core of the frightening plot.

From: David Brooks (brooksdrATsympatico.ca)
Subject: Gelett Burgess

Very good topic! I thought you might like this *blurb* from today's Globe and Mail:

    His greatest misses

    This month sees the 140th birthday of humorist Gelett Burgess, who invented the word "blurb" and applied "bromide" to boring talk. Many of his coinages, however, didn't catch on, reports the Chicago Tribune, They included: alibosh (a blatant lie), bimped (to be cheated), cowcat ("a person whose main function is to occupy space"), igmoil (a bitter dispute over money), quisty (useful but not beautiful), skyscrimble (to go off topic), sulphite (the antonym to his "bromide"), tashivate ("to reply without attention") and vilp (a bad winner or sore loser).

From: Lane Andress (lyra2112ATmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pangaea

Pangaea was not hypothetical. In fact, geochemists have proven that there were two other super continents before Pangaea. And the term WAS coined by Wegener. He noticed that Africa and South America fit together too nicely to be a coincidence and he was the first one to propose the theory of "plate tectonics", everyone thought he was crazy, but he was right.

    "Wegener found that large-scale geological features on separated continents often matched very closely when the continents were brought together. For example, the Appalachian mountains of eastern North America matched with the Scottish Highlands, and the distinctive rock strata of the Karoo system of South Africa were identical to those of the Santa Catarina system in Brazil. Wegener also found that the fossils found in a certain place often indicated a climate utterly different from the climate of today: for example, fossils of tropical plants, such as ferns and cycads, are found today on the Arctic island of Spitsbergen. All of these facts supported Wegener's theory of "continental drift." In 1915 the first edition of The Origin of Continents and Oceans, a book outlining Wegener's theory, was published; expanded editions were published in 1920, 1922, and 1929. About 300 million years ago, claimed Wegener, the continents had formed a single mass, called Pangaea (from the Greek for "all the Earth"). Pangaea had rifted, or split, and its pieces had been moving away from each other ever since. Wegener was not the first to suggest that the continents had once been connected, but he was the first to present extensive evidence from several fields." (from http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/wegener.html )
The rock record is in essence the "written" record of Earth's history, much like the written histories of past civilizations, and fossils are the "artifacts". The Ancient Sumerians are not considered a hypothetical civilization, yet all we can see of them is in written records (stone tablets and papyrus hieroglyphs) and artifacts. The super continent theory is supported by the very sound science of many disciplines.

From: Janet Parker (janet.parkerATmaine.gov)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--McJob

Here along the beautiful coast of Maine, and in the western mountains of Maine, we have many McMansions where 'people from away' buy up land and old homes (essentially buying out the locals), tear down the home, then build a bigger, usually overly ostentatious home.

They are generally characterized by being very large, fancy (a local one has pink granite crushed rock drive ways to the main house and the 'cottages'), and only used for a week or two per year. When the home-owner employs locals to mow the grass, plow the snow, or check that pipes are not frozen, they are tolerated (if they give money to local fundraisers, they are appreciated), if they fly in on their private plane and act like they are better than the locals, they are silently ridiculed. McMansions are a waste of resources at best and an affront to local dignity at worst.

Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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